Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Self-harm not always a sign of serious mental health problems

Self-harm is common among young people. Many have at one time scratched, punctured or cut themselves or hit their head forcefully against a wall, and the behaviour is almost as common among boys as girls.

However, it may not be appropriate to compare young people who self-harm and adult psychiatric patients who self-harm. Knowledge is needed in order not to over-interpret the behaviour of the young people, according to psychologist Jonas Bjärehed, who has recently presented his thesis at Lund University in Sweden.

Jonas Bjärehed and his supervisor Lars Gunnar Lund carried out a survey of 1 000 young people in southern Sweden which showed that four out of ten young people had at some time intentionally hurt themselves. The researchers have now broken down the data and it appears that only a small minority of the young people self-harm on a regular basis and in a way that can be compared with self-harm in adults with mental health problems.

“It is important that school and health professionals know how to deal with young people who self-harm. They need to react appropriately and not judge all young people alike”, says Jonas Bjärehed. “For many of these young people, the behaviour seems to be fairly mild and often of a temporary nature. It may be viewed as a matter of experimentation or problems that are not of a serious nature.”

When Jonas Bjärehed began his research six years ago, knowledge about self-harm was limited among many professional groups that come into contact with young people. However, the situation is improving:

Nowadays, knowledge of eating disorders in young people is well established among school and health service staff. Jonas Bjärehed hopes that awareness of self-harm will also become as widespread. Even if all young people who self-harm do not suffer from mental illness, the behaviour can become a vicious circle: once a person has started, the risk is greater that they will continue and the self-harm causes their mental health to deteriorate.

Jonas Bjärehed calls self-harm the teenage disease of our day:
“It is not the first time young people worry those around them with new types of behaviour”, he says, giving the examples of the increase in eating disorders in the 1970s and 80s and the ‘hysterics’, who worried those around them at the turn of the last century by fainting for various reasons.

“Nowadays, we are grappling with the fact that many signs of stress and mental illness appear to be increasing in our society, especially among young people, without us really understanding why. The fact that many young people suffer mental health problems during a time in their lives when they are in the process of becoming adults and developing the skills they need to contribute to society has become a serious public health problem. An important challenge is to understand this trend and the signs of mental illness that we are seeing in young people, in order to be able to take the necessary measures to prevent it or provide help”, says Jonas Bjärehed.

For more information, please contact Jonas Bjärehed on +46 46 222 45 81, +46 702 608045 or email

Jonas Bjärehed defended his thesis on 28 September. The thesis is entitled Characteristics of Self-Injury in Young Adolescents: Findings from Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Studies in Swedish Schools.

Helga Ekdahl Heun | idw
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

nachricht Inflammation Triggers Unsustainable Immune Response to Chronic Viral Infection
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

3-D-printed structures shrink when heated

26.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow

26.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

First results of NSTX-U research operations

26.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>